Do I Need A Masters Degree To Be A School Counselor?
School counselors play a pivotal role in the lives of the students. They work with students of various ages, ranging from elementary to middle school to high school to college. Through individual and group counseling programs and other strategies, they help students who are facing behavioral and academic problems in school. They also educate and empower students by delivering lessons on bullying, alcoholism, drug abuse and other relevant topics in the classroom. All in all, a career as a school counselor is very fulfilling especially for those who like working with young people and are intent on helping them succeed academically.
If you are interested in becoming a school counselor, you have to be prepared for a lengthy educational journey. A bachelor’s degree in psychology which takes four years if you study fulltime is simply the first step towards becoming a school counselor. Having this qualification is only good for entry level posts. You will need to obtain a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field before you can actually work as a school counselor. This postgraduate program will equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to be able to foster a student’s academic and behavioral development and provide counseling in group or individual settings. You will also learn strategies for working with teachers, parents and other stakeholders of the school system. Some of the topics that are covered in an advanced degree program are on human growth and development, social and cultural foundations, individual and group counseling, career development and testing.
A master’s degree program is also crucial in preparing you for a career as a school counselor because of the opportunity it provides for supervised internships or practicum. These real life opportunities to work in a school setting and learn from experienced school counselors teach valuable lessons to aspiring school counselors. It also gives you insight on the kind of environment you can expect to work in later on.
Moreover, a master’s degree is also necessary especially if you’re planning to work in a public school. This is because a state-issued credential is needed to practice the profession. To get credentialed as a school counselor—states can call the credential a license, certification or an endorsement—the main requirements are completion of a master’s degree and finishing supervised internship or practicum. In some states, it is also necessary for school counselors to have teaching experience for one to two years or possess a teaching license before they can get their credential.
Postgraduate studies also do more than make you qualified to become a school counselor. The more rigorous academic requirements as well as the supervised practicum or internship experience that are incorporated in the program train you to handle the demands of the job. The courses and lectures do enrich your knowledge about school counseling but even more important is the fact that the intense training and immersion you get from working with the veterans of your field will equip you with the skills and techniques necessary to perform the duties of a school counselor effectively and efficiently. A master’s degree is more than a technical requirement. It will actually equip you with the advanced knowledge you need to be able to make a difference in the lives of the students who will walk through your door when you become a full-fledged school counselor.